Like many riders, I have numerous favorite horse show memories, but there is one that stands out clearly as both the most humorous and the most memorable.
It was August 1996, and my horse Riker and I were competing in a horse trial at our barn. Riker is a gray Appendix Quarter horse with one of the biggest personalities of any horse I have ever met. He has always been a clown, and full of surprises. On this particular day though, I had no idea what was in store for me.
In a horse trial (which is what eventers call a one-day event) there are three phases: dressage, cross country, and stadium jumping. Riker and I had completed our dressage and cross country successfully, and were finishing out the day with stadium.
It all started off pretty smoothly, with the course going well and Riker easily clearing the jumps. But that all changed as we approached the final jumps, an in-and-out combination consisting of two fences. Riker started veering to the left, while I was very determined to get over these final jumps. The end result of this standoff was that while he jumped, he was so far over to the left that my foot hit the jump standard, pulling the entire thing down behind us.
This of course made Riker furious, which resulted in some bucking, crow-hopping, and general naughtiness. As I struggled to regain control (and stay on), I hardly even noticed we were heading for the arena gate. And since he was slowing down rapidly, I figured he would simply stop and we could regroup. Instead, Riker made a last minute decision and leapt over the 5’ metal gate without a second thought. By some sheer miracle I managed to stay on!
My mom, ever the professional videographer and photographer, captured the whole thing on camera, so luckily I’m able to enjoy this memory even many years later. My favorite part by far though, is that once on the other side of the gate, he simply stopped, and casually walked over to the people standing nearby. Of course my trainer then made me go back in the ring and repeat that part again!
What’s your favorite horse show memory? Share in the comments below!